This salad is crisp, bright freshness. The perfect accompaniment to just about any summer meal. It takes ten minutes or so to prepare, just a little longer to marinate, and is made with the simplest of ingredients. If you ever are in need of an excellent, but easily made, side dish to take to a picnic or barbeque, then this is it.
In this preparation, as suggested by Andrew Carmellini, the salad is topped with spicy yet cool calamari. The calamari takes no longer to prepare than does the salad, making the combination an excellent last minute meal. I doubt that anything, anywhere, could be as ridiculously over-the-top delicious, luscious, luxurious, as Carmellini’s Shrimp and Scallop Meatballs, but this recipe comes in a close second.
If you aren’t particularly comfortable cooking with calamari, or don’t have a decent source of supply nearby, you easily can substitute in your favorite protein. Simply marinate the raw chicken or shrimp or fish or tofu, or what have you, in the harissa/lemon/oil dressing for a half hour, then grill (or saute or roast) until done. Dice into chunks and sprinkle on top of the salad. Next time, I plan to try boneless chicken thighs. Grilled, with a slight hint of char.
Citrus Chickpea Salad, with Spicy Calamari
2 15oz cans chickpeas, drained
1 cup celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red onion, finely diced
9 T olive oil
zest and juice of 4 lemons
zest and juice of 1 orange
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 lb cleaned calamari
2 tsp harissa (or Sriracha)
Combine the chickpeas, celery, and onion. Whisk together 6 T of the olive oil, the zest and juice of 3 lemons, the zest and juice of the orange, along with 3/4 tsp salt and plenty of pepper. Stir into the salad, fold in the parsley, and refrigerate. (The salad can be served after marinating for 15 minutes, but a longer bath will blend the flavors even better.)
Cut the tentacles from the calamari bodies and halve them lengthwise. Cut the bodies crosswise into 1/4-inch rings. Bring a large pot of water almost to a boil, but DO NOT boil. Plunge the calamari pieces into the water for 15 seconds. (The tentacles will straighten, and the edges of the rings will curl.) Drain immediately, removing from the hot pan. Whisk together the harissa, 3 T of the olive oil, and the juice of 1 lemon, along with a little salt and pepper. Stir the sauce into the calamari and refrigerate.
To serve, place the salad on a platter or on individual plates, and top with the calamari.